Raptors Blow Out Magic, Push Orlando to Brink of Elimination
A little slow out the gate, but it was smooth sailing from there.
After falling behind 9-1 in the opening minutes, the Toronto Raptors began to pick things up, taking back the lead for good midway through the first quarter en route to what turned into a very dominant one-sided effort. The talent disparity was on full display on Sunday night as the Raptors took a double-digit lead into halftime and put the game on ice in the second half en route to a 107-85 Game 4 victory.
“For me, we are going to know if we came here to play tonight if we start guarding ‘em early,” head coach Nick Nurse said prior to tip-off. “I think we’ve shown some defensive muscle here in this series, and we are going to need to continue to do that.”
The Raptors picked up right where they left off in Game 2 and 3, holding the Magic to just 42-percent shooting from the field, including a putrid 7-of-33 from beyond the arc. After a big Game 3, Terrence Ross was held to just five points on 1-for-5 shooting, while Marc Gasol continued to make things insanely difficult for All-Star Nikola Vucevic who once again was a non-factor. Game 1 DJ Augustin has turned into nothing but a memory and if anything, nothing more than a glitch in the matrix. The veteran guard was held to just eight points on the evening.
“In Games 2, 3 and 4 we’ve gone out there and really guarded,” Nurse said after his squad won its third straight playoff game. “That is who we are, are becoming, need to become, need to be each and every minute of each and every game and (we’ve) done it pretty well three games in a row.”
On the offensive side, a seemingly rejuvenated Kawhi Leonard set the tone early as he finished the night with 34 points on 12-for-20 shooting. Pascal Siakam pitched in with 16-points of his own. Meanwhile, the Raptors bench outscored the Magic second unit for the first time in the series, as Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka, and Fred VanVleet were all brilliant on Sunday night. Powell in particular finished with 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting.
“When you have good teammates with good chemistry guys tend to step up,” Leonard said. “That is how you win games in the playoffs. It is not a one-man team, we all did it collectively through the whole year.”
The Raptors now go up 3-1 in a playoff series for the first time in its franchise’s history. They will have the opportunity to close it out on Tuesday night on their home floor.